Oh man, I thought I hit the highlight of my marshaling career working Pit Fire at VIR for IMSA last year. This year the bar has been raised as I found my new favorite marshaling role: “Hooker” with VIR Fire Rescue.
First, huge thanks to Cowboy for allowing me this opportunity. The man runs VIR Fire Rescue as a well oiled machine. I’ve never heard anyone more calm and collected and cool under pressure than this man. Every call to dispatch trucks he made was precise and purposeful, a man in complete control of otherwise chaotic scenes around the track. I absolutely loved the experience.
What is the “Hooker” role?
It is the person in the Fire Rescue truck that hooks a stricken car to the truck for a flat tow. This person also assists the Wrecker with hooking a car that requires to be lifted off the ground because of damaged suspension, like was the case with many open wheel cars. And it’s the person that assists the flat bed driver getting a mangled vehicle winched onto the tow truck. That person this weekend was me…. and boy was it an awesome rush of adrenaline!
It wasn’t the first time I worked in this role. Back in 2011/2 I was on the rescue truck in New Zealand working at Hampton Downs. But the situation was a little different. We had a truck full of people and my role wasn’t to “hook-em” but instead to carry a fire extinguisher and help in case something ignites. At VIR it was only me and the driver, so it was totally a much more hands-on role.
VIR fire rescue has several locations to stage. The most visible probably is by pit exit. Another at the half-way point on the Patriot track that could respond from Turn 7 or Turn 14. And finally on the south paddock/pit lane near Turn 12. Throughout the day the trucks rotate positions to get a different view, and an opportunity to respond to different incidents around the track. That was fantastic!
Here’s some pix… Day 1;
On the rescue truck at Turn 7 staged on the Patriot track.
With an awesome view of the uphill esses, the VIR resort and spa, and the Oak Tree turn (missing the Oak Tree which fell down)
Day 2: On the Avalanche fire rescue truck in Pit Out:
A much busier day on Saturday. Got to respond to a massive incident where I actually ran up to the car with a fire bottle… Ended the day by removing a blown off frunk off of the Acura NSX GT3:
A/C so cold in the truck the camera lens was all fogged up…
Day 3/Race Day… no assignment, asked to stay in the office to see if I’d be needed to jump into a rotation somewhere. I pitched the idea of working on a Wrecker since the driver was just by himself, but instead was paired with a Tow Truck driver, which worked out fantastically… we had quite a few incidents to respond to. It was so awesome!
Staged at Turn 12A
I got a whole new appreciation for VIR after having driven the track at high rate of speed. My goodness how much elevation changes this track has. Far more dramatic than other tracks I love because of their hilly nature like Watkins Glen or Mosport in Canada. VIR takes the cake with it’s snaking turns, climbing esses, roller coaster down to the last turn. Just impressively incredible up and down ride. I can see why the fastest cars running here at the likes of GTE in IMSA or GT3 in PWC. I would imagine prototypes would take flight here.
Anyway, I was very privileged this weekend to find myself working in this position. A new learning experience for me. Especially riding in the same rescue truck as the track doctor who shared a lot of knowledge in terms of approaching a driver after a crash. I’m very lucky to have experienced this and am extremely thankful.
Love VIR and can’t wait to get back!